BOOK & BLOG
November 27, 2005
Some of you have been reading as long or longer than I have. Some of you are just starting out on your life as a reader, and maybe this entry in my Book review column wont be as appealing to you.
Ninety percent of the books I read go onto my shelves or into a box for one of the Mississippi libraries right after Ive finished with them. I never think about them again, even if I thought they were well-written and I enjoyed them. Those arent the books I want to talk about today.
Id like to tell you about the books I re-read. Some books are just magic. Theres something on that printed page that releases a pheromone in your head, or a feeling in your heart, that does so much for you that you want it again and again. Sometimes its inexplicable . . . like when you pick the disreputable date over the good, steady, guy. Sometimes it goes against your better judgment. (I know SoAndSo is not a great writer! Why do I love this book?)
So for better or worse, and in most cases for no reason I can pin down, here are a few books Ive read more than once and in some cases, several times.
GUILTY PLEASURES who cant remember the moment she discovered Laurell K. Hamilton? Laurells brilliant imagination and vigorous writing style make GP a must-read.
WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE Shirley Jacksons weird, weird book about Mary Catherine and Constance, self-imposed exiles in a small town, sisters living with the aftermath of one terrible afternoon when the rest of their family was poisoned.
CRANFORD by Mrs. Gaskell. My loving this book is a peculiar fact; but I do. Its a very old book, not so easy to find, and Mrs. Gaskell is almost unknown in America. CRANFORD is about a small group of spinsters in a small village in England in the 1800s. Nothing much happens. I just have to read this book once a year.
THE DOMESDAY BOOK by Connie Willis Connie Willis is a great American writer, whose books are often slotted into science fiction. As far as Im concerned, theyre just great books. THE DOMESDAY BOOK is about a time-travel experiment that goes quite wrong. Try to find this one at your library, or find a second-hand copy. Its just fascinating.
All of Robert Craiss Elvis Cole private detective books; because hes a writer with the most wonderful ear for dialogue, pacing, and plot. Not only are you royally entertained, you learn a lot as a writer from reading Craiss books. THE MONKEYS RAINCOAT, STALKING THE ANGEL, SUNSET EXPRESS, INDIGO SLAM . . . . you just cant go wrong. I wouldnt re-read one of his standalones, but these books are golden.
SACRED by Dennis Lehane. Dennis Lehane is a great American writer who choses to write crime fiction. Id never call him a mystery writer, even more than Id call James Lee Burke a mystery writer. Lehanes series about a Boston private eye and his partner Angie Gennaro are some of the best American fiction in the past twenty years. Pick up any one of them. Of course, the stand-alone MYSTIC RIVER is great, too, but I love the earlier books.
Give some of these a try, and maybe theyll end up on your re-read shelves, too.
What to say about this week? I did the things most of you were doing; I cooked a lot, ate too much, saw a lot of my family, and thought all too often about the things I should be doing.
I had a birthday. I am learning not to focus on the number, but on the happiness of having a special day.
And I went to the movies, along with thousands of Americans. Last week we saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and last night we saw Rent. Both were enjoyable, but I found myself checking my watch during the last thirty minutes of Rent. I guess I can only take so much singing and dancing, and of course since its the adaptation of the stage musical, Rent is chock full of both -- great singing and dancing, but unfortunately Im not the most musical of people.
This year I didnt have to travel, but my mother was too ill to come to us. I shed a few tears over that. We werent able to go to her, because my husband had to cover at work this holiday. I hope at Christmas we can do better.
Again, like many of you, this afternoon after church I hope to badger my children into getting the Christmas decorations down from the attic. I have to get a little work out of my sons before they head back to college! I will begin to set up my Snow Village, and I hope my boys will set up the tree. I think artificial trees are horrible, but since my oldest son is really allergic to indoor trees, we have made do with the artificial ones for several years. One of lifes compromises.
I hope that all of us will take a big breath this week, and promise ourselves not to get stressed out this holiday season. We are supposed to enjoy this time, and use it to make memories (I confess I never have understood that concept) that will make us happy in times to come. Thats the idea, and the ideal. And its a good one. Charlaine Harris
® 2010 Charlaine Harris